About Me

Don cowboy 4

If you’re like me you might think that music is one of the things that makes life worth living.  Perhaps that’s why I’m so grateful that I can make music.  I began playing the guitar when I was eleven years old, and began singing publically before that–I sang my first solo in church at the age of nine.  But this was to be expected as mine was a musical family.  My father, a pastor and evangelist,  sang and played the guitar, my mother was a vocalist and pianist, my older half brother also sang and played the guitar, and my half sister had a career as a lead soprano in the Tampa Opera Company and sometimes lounge singer around the country.

My broad and eclectic musical tastes can be traced back to the different phases of my discovery of my instrument.  At first it was all about gospel tunes played in church.  My father and brother taught me my first chords–the “cowboy” chords–and I would follow along with them as they made the changes.  But I quickly discovered among my brother’s things a Chet Atkins instructional book and LP and began to work on his method of “fingerpicking”, alternating the bass notes with one’s thumb and playing syncopated melody with the other fingers.  When I was 15 James Taylor hit the airwaves and my interest moved to his brand of folk rock.  I spent hours in my early teens wearing out cassettes of his early recordings trying to figure out his fingerpicking patterns and chord changes, learning every lick I could.

In my twenties music slowed for me as the demands of starting a family left little time.  But in my thirties I discovered jazz and my enthusiasm was renewed.  Listening to Joe Pass play fingerstyle solo guitar for the first time was something of an awakening experience.  Afterward I was committed to learning to play in this way.  Sometime in my mid-thirties, after all this time of being exclusively self-taught, I sought out teachers.  I studied under some of the finest in the Portland area: John Stowell, Jerry Hahn, and for many years, Mark Stefani.

Now, I’m having the time of my life sharing with others the music I have devoted my life to learning.  My repertoire is large and diverse, including Classic Rock, blues, Country, pop, the standards of the great American songbook, jazz, Brazilian bossa novas, movie and TV themes, Christmas carols and popular songs, and hymns that I have arranged with modern harmony for solo guitar and vocals.


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